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2017 Mainframe Trends that are Here to Stay for 2018: Docker, Blockchain, z14 and Beyond

Mainframes are still going strong as 2018 begins. Need proof? Keep reading for a look at the biggest innovations and developments to hit the mainframe world in the past year.  These five mainframe trends are expected to continue to impact the mainframe community in 2018.

Ask an everyman to tell you about mainframes, and you’ll likely hear that they went out of fashion decades ago.

Download our free report: State of the Mainframe for 2018

In fact, however, as these mainframe trends show, the ecosystem remains alive and well, and continues to see new ideas and trends on par with innovations that stretch across the IT world as a whole.

Docker Containers Come to Mainframes

Technically, it has been possible to run Docker on mainframes using a DIY approach since Docker debuted in 2013. Docker works on any Linux-based operating system, and Linux can run on mainframes.

In August 2017, however, Docker support for mainframes became official. Mainframes are now a bona fide part of the Docker ecosystem, benefitting from the agility and efficiency advantages that containers offer.

IBM z14 Announced

Mainframe hardware continues to evolve, as IBM showed when it announced the z14 system in July 2017.

Z14 is the latest, greatest version in IBM’s z family of mainframes. It expands upon the features of z13, which debuted in 2015.

Z14 offers a number of innovations in the security realm in particular.

IBM mainframe trends

Z Systems Sales Decline

Notwithstanding the z14 announcement, sales of z Systems overall declined in 2017.

Is this a sign of the impending collapse of the mainframe industry and the irrelevance of mainframe skillsets? Hardly.

The z Systems sales decline was due in part to the fact that previous quarters saw high z Systems sales rates. Maintaining that pace indefinitely was not feasible.

Plus, even if mainframe sales were to decline, people with the skills to migrate mainframe workloads to other types of servers will be in high demand. Any company that chooses to divest itself from mainframes will need to embark on a complicated journey, which will only succeed with the help of seasoned mainframe admins.

Blockchain Comes to Mainframes

The world of blockchain technology evolved significantly in 2017, and mainframes have been a part of the picture. Over the course of the year, vendors like IBM have been increasingly active in promoting mainframes for hosting blockchain workloads.

Expect this trend to continue as blockchain technology — which includes but is certainly not limited to the Bitcoin cryptocurrency platform — continues to expand.

More Interest in Software-Defined Mainframe Environments

One of the biggest trends in the IT world over the past several years has been the shift toward software-defined everything.

Rather than running applications and storing data directly on hardware, organizations are increasingly using virtual environments that abstract the underlying hardware away. This provides more flexibility.

The software-defined everything trend is impacting mainframes, too, by enabling companies to move workloads from physical mainframes to software-defined mainframe environments — as Swisscom started doing in 2017, to cite one prominent example.

Such moves don’t mean the mainframes are going away. You still need to understand mainframe applications and architectures in order to administer these workloads. But the way that mainframe hardware and software interact is becoming more flexible.

Want to learn more about current mainframe trends? Check out our 2018 State of the Mainframe report to see key trends to watch for in 2018 as well as IT professionals’ top objectives for improving performance and saving money over the next 12 months.

 

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